Some crazy stuff goes on in my head.
Not in a scary way, so don’t worry about me orchestrating some mass homicide in my basement.
When I say crazy, I’m talking about the two fictional characters that occupy so much space in my imagination, so much space I’m sure it’s not healthy. There’s Arcadius who you may know already, and there’s a famous actress/singer Nicki who I created in Highschool almost 20 years ago. Arcadius is fairly new as I dreamed him up around 2008, but given the amount of time Nicki has been in my head, she is now so developed and evolved that I had a bit of a breakdown last night when I thought about changing her history.
When I was 16 I didn’t have much insight about what a woman in her position in her late 20′s would feel and do. And for the purposes of her acting and singing, I was a bit unrealistic about what her artistic and creative input would be in her career. I started thinking about everything I created, the timelines, song titles, album releases, video concepts, tour ideas, the movies she’s done and when she won her Oscar. It really really… really made me uneasy thinking about going back and changing all of that. And I thought… WHY? Why am I so attached to these fake people?
So that’s the crazy stuff goes on in my head, and for hours I was thinking about how to let these characters in my head die. I tried, somewhat, before to step more into reality and get out of my head, but it didn’t quite work out. In High school when I would dream up scenarios for Nicki on my way to classes, and in class, and on my way home, and pretty much anytime I had a free moment. Once I got into my 20′s I thought it was silly of me to spend so much time thinking about this person, and I deluded myself into thinking it would be a good idea to transfer her into novel form. I wasn’t really letting go of her, but making an excuse to keep her lodged in my brain. I wrote and wrote and wrote, but nothing was ever really interesting to me, it’s the same situation with Arcadius. Why was I having such difficulty making these characters interesting in a literary form, when they were so well developed in my head?
Last night, I realized two things. The reason I often trail off in my head about these characters, and a reason they aren’t any good for creative purposes is because I have too much control over them. Of course if my daily life sucks on a certain day, if something I set out to do didn’t happen exactly like I wanted, well it’s a no-brainer that I’d start thinking about these fantastic characters that seem to get everything they want, because I control their world. If I want Arcadius to win Album of the Year at the Grammys, well what’s really stopping him from winning.? He’s not real. Same with Nicki and her Emmy wins and her recent #1 album, ofcourse she can have all of that because in my mind I control all of that.
And, well, I may go back to those characters at some point, but I was thinking that maybe it’s not the best thing to have so much control over your fictional characters when you writing. Instead of having their entire life so detailed in my brain, I should maybe just start from scratch and build a character as I’m writing it. I know for “Friday Night Rain”, a short story project I randomly started late last year, I started with just the basics of a character and the more I wrote and more I thought about it I came up with interesting possibilities, and I rather like that story and what could become of it and maybe it’s because of the fact that I hadn’t had years to develop the character.
Also a drawback of having so much control over my characters is that I hate to put them in positions where they aren’t “winning”. Plenty of times I’ve gone on to writing forums or asked in writing classes how to develop plot in the story, and it’s all about conflict, but I’m so protective of my “perfect” characters Nicki and Arcadius that I can’t fathom putting them in any serious harm or depression or peril. Basically to sum this up, I think these two characters hold a place in my head simply because I can give them everything that I don’t have in reality, but if you want to write in a realistic setting I have to know that for most people things don’t go the way they want. Control is bad people, at least for me, at this junction of my writing. So say R.I.P. to Nicki and Arcadius for a while, it’s going to be hard for me to let go but I think it’s necessary to become a better writer.